|1 a.m. self-portrait, with coyote. :)|
Monday, February 27, 2012
What happens next. Also, thank you.
… I’m just going to wait here for a second while you scream at me for how Chapter 32 of Masks ended.
Got it out of your system? Good.
Yes, I will get around to showing more of the Black Mask’s hideout, and yes, I will explain what’s in those envelopes and how they got into the hideout well after the Black Mask got himself blown up ten years ago. All of that will come out in Book 2, which will begin serialization this summer (I’m aiming for July again). But considering some of the hysterical emails and comments I’ve been getting on this project, I think I should take a Monday to explain what’s going to happen next.
First things first. If you’re suffering from Masks withdrawal, I strongly urge you to buy the paperback or (if you can wait a week or two) the ebook when it comes out, for the sake of your own sanity. There are several nifty special features in there that I think you’ll enjoy, but probably the most relevant to those of you jonesing for more Rae and Trevor are the Hawkins Foundation Secret Files and a short story called “The Missing.”
The Secret Files feature is loosely based on something the Big Two comic companies would sometimes do in annuals—jumbo-sized bonus comics that came out once a year to supplement the main monthly title. In the back of an annual, which would usually include a main story and several backup features, there would often be little capsule bios of the hero and his major allies and enemies, just in case there were new readers who were coming in a little lost. The files would include things like the hero’s real name, his powers, his origin story, his history, and his affiliations with any major superhero teams. Because I designed Masks with the idea that every major character would have an arc—that everyone was the hero of his or her own story—there was lots of material to choose from, but I wanted to do something more than the usual biography. So I decided that these files would be Robert Paine Hawkins’ secret files on the various young masks who appear in the story, including his private analysis of their psychologies and possible futures as heroes (or not).
Probably the biggest surprise in writing those files was realizing that I hadn’t sketched out an origin story for Golem prior to the day he encountered Moon in that secret laboratory. How did a boy end up made of stone, and what sort of life would make him well-suited to being best friends with a chatty werewolf with poor impulse control? To my shock, I found his origin story taking shape almost immediately in my head as I typed—what his parents were like, what kind of student he’d been before he left school, how he came to be in that lab, and why he would never talk about any of it to anyone, not even Moon. Even his real name held a useful little secret. The exercise was a helpful one, not least because it showed me how his character would develop in future books, including a rather surprising romance. If you’ve enjoyed the mystery of Golem at all, you’ll probably want to check out the Secret Files feature. (There’s more dirt on Rae and Trevor, too, plus Soleil, Lady Luck, and Moonclaw.)
The second feature that might ease your Masks craving is “The Missing,” a short story that’s about as long as a chapter and a half of Masks and features four new Nicole Le sketches. The story’s about Rae and Trevor assisting in the search for a missing child—a search that takes them down into the side channels of the Los Angeles River just as it’s starting to rain, and a flood is building upstream. While they’re working against time to find and save a lost little girl, they must also hammer out a dent in their new relationship … and deal with the fact that each of them separately sees a bad omen, and chooses not to tell the other about it. Secrets and surprises abound, and I think you’ll like the ending.
Now, you may ask, what will I be doing while you’re stewing in your own juices?
Well, the picture at the top of this blog entry might give you a clue. I’m still working on revising The Novel, which has to go out to prospective literary agents before I do anything else. (I’ve promised to send it out by the end of March … fingers crossed!) After that, it’s full speed ahead on Volume 2 of Masks, and I’ll be dropping lots of hints and other goodies in this blog as I go. Remember, I managed to fill a blog with interesting content for years before my first novel came out, so I shouldn’t have too much trouble keeping up with it for a couple of months.
And then, of course, there’s Free Comic Book Day.
I can spill a little more about that story now that Chapter 32 is out. The FCBD story will serve as a kind of appetizer for Volume 2—which will involve the Black Mask quite heavily. I know, I know; the Black Mask has been dead for ten years, so how can he be a factor in the adventures of Rae and Trevor? Let’s just say there’s more than a couple of manila envelopes in that hideout, and the Black Mask wasn’t quite the lone wolf he appeared to be. In particular, the FCBD story will introduce two of his companions from World War II and follow him and them on a daring postwar rescue mission that you definitely won’t find in any of the official histories of superheroics. That unlikely trio will cast a long shadow, and two of them will appear in person in Volume 2, with a few secrets to reveal. I wouldn’t rule out an appearance by a certain cowboy, either. The story will be available on Pocket Coyote, as a free download, and maybe in a limited print edition on May 5. Until then, watch this space and Pocket Coyote for hints, spoilers, and all the goodies I can cram into them.
And now, a more personal note.
I’d like to take a moment to thank all of you for reading along this far, and for being so supportive with your comments on the various pages and on Facebook and Twitter. I began writing what became Volume 1 in a pit of black depression, and your support and enthusiasm gave me a lot of the momentum I needed to climb back out. With all of you behind me and everything I’m learning from The Novel, I think I can safely say Volume 2 will completely blow your minds. One of my goals in serializing Masks was to give myself a public laboratory in which I could test what did and didn’t work in my storytelling, with real-time feedback, and you guys have really gone above and beyond in helping me learn. I plan to pour all that new knowledge and experience into making Volume 2 utterly fantastic.
I don’t like to talk much about my personal life online, except in the past tense, both because I think some things should stay private and because blogging about my dirty laundry seems like a great way to get myself sued, arrested, or beaten to a bloody pulp. But I want you guys to know that when I’m having a really bad day, when things are at their blackest, I pull up your comments, your cheers and jeers and questions, and I remind myself that there are total strangers out there who willingly return to my website, week after week, to read little bits of my soul in the form of stories. And they like them enough to comment, and to keep coming back. That’s enough to silence the vampires in my head for a little while, and to let me create more of the stories I love. So please, keep reading, keep commenting, and invite as many of your friends as you think can stand to join you.
You are my friends.
You are my tribe.
I hope to share joy with you for many years to come.